tv Obama CSPAN August 8, 2017 12:00am-12:19am EDT
her documentary on the national debt, joe asmussen, rita collins and sean baker one for their documentary and terrorism. >> thank you to all the students who took part in the 2017 student cam documentary competition. to watch videos go to student cam.org and student cam 2018 starts in september with the theme of the constitution and you. choose any provision of the constitution and create a video illustrating why it is importa important. >> you're watching book tv on c-span2, the top nonfiction books and authors every weekend. tv, television for serious readers. >> one of the things we like to do is preview some of the books i will be coming out this fall.
joining us in new york is an author and photographer his name is pete souza. what you do for living? >> right now trying to finish up my book comments pretty much done but there's a lot of last-minute production things were dealing with. >> what did you do for a living? >> for eight years i was with president obama for the chief white house -- was to document the presidency for history. what that means depends on the photographer and the president. this case, president obama understood the role of chile visually documenting his presidency. so he gave me access to pretty much everything. i was able to create an archive of photographs that will live in perpetuity at the national
archive. >> how long has the president had a photographer like that? >> i think the job first took hold during the kennedy administration. kennedy had to military photographers assigned to the white house. when lg lbj came in who was the first one to document for history everything that johnson did. he set the bar so high they think they're all trying to reach his level. >> had to get a gig like that? >> it's different for each. for me i guess it was then senator obama i was working for
the chicago tribune, and the hometown newspaper. i was based in d.c. at the time it was to document his first year in the senate. so i got to know him, he got to know me. he liked my pictures. he liked the way i work. i usually try not to disturb what was taking place. when he was elected president he asked me to become his white house photographer. >> how many pictures have you taken president obama? >> host: if i had to guess i would said 300 to 400,000. >> so, just under 2 million. but when you added up, there is sometimes seven days a week it's not as many pictures as it really sounds. 2 million is a lot but it is
over eight years and almost 360 days a year. >> what kind of clearance to just have. >> i was able to go into every national security meeting. which is important in terms of trying to document the importance meetings of the presidency. >> the iconic photo of the president and osama bin laden, was that years? >> yes, tell me about the. >> in the afternoon it was the interesting thing is, all the people in the decision-makers in that room, the president and vice president, chief of staff, secretary of state, there's nothing they could do. they had already made their decision. they made the decision to launch
the mission. now all they had to do was watch. it was out of their hands. that had to be an anxious time for them which is what is pretrade in the photograph. they didn't even know for sure if bin laden was there. they didn't know if the mission would succeed. he's risking his presidency on this one decision. i look at that picture and i just think there's helplessness and some respect, the decision had been made and there's nothing they could do. >> did you know at that point what you had? >> well for 40 minutes that's about how long the mission took. probably took 100 pictures and that 40 minutes.
i had a lot of pictures throughout that day, i think i took a thousand pictures that day. and it wasn't until the next day but i did the editing and i got it down to ten or 20 pictures. i thought it was a special photograph. i did not know it would get the attention edited. >> what is your favorite photograph of president obama? >> i don't think i have one. it's a difficult decision to take eight years of work and narrow it down to one. i had a hard enough time taking 1.96 million photographs and getting it down to 300 plus for this book. to get that down to one, that's really hard. >> out of the 300 and the forthcoming book, what are
couple that stick out. >> i would gravitate toward the ones that show him as a person, what he was like as a person. there is one of him playing in the snow with his girls when they were young. there is young where a young kid is dressed up like fighter man. another way on another halloween pitcher where -- daughter dressed up and comes into the oval office and he lies down in lift her up in the air. so those unique moments that you can't plan and you don't know they are about to happen. that tells you a lot about his personality. what he's like as a person.
not just him waiting in the situation are agonizing what's happening. this pictures are important and they tell you a lot. but the other ones i mentioned tell you what is like as a person. >> to the president ever next the photo you chose? >> it didn't really work that way. he trusted me if we were going to make public a picture i would put an appropriate picture, if you look at some of the earlier pictures where he was dealing with the economic crisis on you could say these are not the conditional pictures you see, he had his head in his hands. i was trying to be truthful to how he was dealing with this. i think people thought they were
appropriate to make public so the public could see some of that makes a considerable -- campaign that's a risk you take their hard to control in the proper context. >> was there ever a time when the president said, not now. >> guest: know, but i know him so well that i could tell when he needed some space. and i also came to learn if he had a one-on-one meeting with someone he really wanted to have a private conversation that you never say this to me but i could sense it.
he wanted me to make sure i got my pictures, but then to back out of the room. so i learned how to do that over the course of six months. so i had to learn how to do my job in a way that he was comfortable with. >> guest: did your. >> host: did your camera clicked audibly? >> guest: that's a good question. when i was first at the white house i had to choose what kind of equipment to purchase for me and my staff. the overriding decision was choosing the quietest camera. at the time i chose the cannon. it was very quiet shudder. i did not she with motor drives or use a flash. if i did i tried to be small footprint.
not to disturb what was going on. use the quiet camera and not use the flash. i think that helped a lot. >> guest: i was also white house photographer, not the chief photographer but i was on the white house staff during the last five years of the reagan administration. i'm either younger than i look her i was 12 this time. i choose to say i was 12 at the time. i was in my 20s, it was a good training ground for the second time around. i sort of knew what needed to be done, i knew the white house fairly well. i knew the logistics of being on the road and i think that helped a lot having had that previous experience. >> could you go whole day first
of all, what were the differences between being on the staff and being the chief? >> the biggest difference was that i knew i had already established a relationship with president obama before he was president. so that have been established. i did not know reagan at all. my personal views tend to be more on the obama side but i looked at it as an opportunity. with dragon, reagan was much more formal than president obama and that he would always work on time, he would never take his suit coat off, president obama was much more informal, he would take his coat off if he was having a meeting with staff.
much more informal, he would do things that weren't on the schedule all the time. and reagan pretty much stuck to the schedule. he was much younger than president reagan so he had a young family to young girls. so there's that aspect of documenting that part of it. the one thing they were both similar in, they had similar dispositions and that it took a lot to get ronald reagan mad or angry. and the same is true with president obama. i saw both of them get mad and angry but they both had this even keel about them.
>> on a typical day, could you go the entire day with president obama and never exchange words because you're both doing your job? >> yes. i did talk to him a lot, but i also knew my role on the observer. my job is documented for history but we did banter a lot, but there were days or maybe four or five. and there would be a moment where we were alone in he would say how are you doing today and i sam doing great, how are you we talk about a gamer something like that there certainly days where i was not having that conversation. >> how long to take for him to get you see? >> guest: probably for five
months, he already knew how i worked and he knew me and trusted me. but for anybody to be constantly photograph, would be annoying. it would be annoying for me. but after a while he saw the value of it. also the pictures that he loved were anytime he hung a picture of him with one of his girls in the west wing, those are pictures he loved. more than. >> one of the ongoing stories and the transition is the president leaves the white house to go to the capital, and then he's gone by the new president gets down, new photos are already hung. how does that happen? was the process? >> guest: i can only tie how we did it, i can tell you about the beginning of the obama
administration in the end of the obama administration. so the beginning, he had our lab, even those digital still call the lab, we had them on standby for the night of the inauguration. so basically all of the pictures we took on january 20, 2009 hanging in the wall of the west wing the following day, the obama administration so we essentially hung the photos of the last couple weeks we could reflect on what they had just been through. then there came a point time where i had to take those down. it was kind of depressing because all of a sudden the
staff walks in the morning of january 20 and it's just blank on the wall. i left the frames for the next administration. but there is nothing in them. that's a strange feeling. to walk out the door like that. >> your book, obama management portraits, district presidency, is it going to be a coffee table book? >> yes, will be 12 inches by 10 inches. 352 pages, it will weigh about r so definitely a coffee table book. there are some words in it too. there's some photographs right tell the complete back story.
some just simple have one line captions and some will have the extended back story. >> who owns the rights to those? we all do. >> so i can publish the book too? >> you could, but you weren't in the room. unless a challenge what i bring to this project is that i think i put together contextually the right group of photographs that tell you about his presidency, and about him. it's coming from me, since my view of it but i think historians will feel that i did justice. >> hoser